Date of Award

Fall 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Community Planning and Development (CPD)


Community Planning and Development


Climate Change, RDM, Portland, Maine, Sea Level Rise, Muskie School of Public Service


This paper evaluates the potential for Robust Decision Making (RDM) to guide communities preparing for the impacts of climate change, using sea level rise planning in Portland, Maine as a case study. RDM is a problem solving process that considers multiple outcomes and an uncertain future, and focuses on decisions that provide benefits regardless of which future scenarios develop, allowing for the adjustment of decisions over time to accommodate changes in the future. The flexibility of RDM makes it an appropriate model for decision makers and stakeholders unsure how to address impacts of climate change, an issue complicated by numerous uncertainties. Investigation shows that stakeholders want municipalities to follow an RDM-like process in planning for the impacts of climate change. This study examines how RDM is specifically applicable to challenges decision makers face when attempting to address climate change impacts, explains how stakeholders in Portland were engaged, and analyzes how that engagement shows support for RDM. This paper also provides guidance for Portland going forward and makes recommendations for communities that may want to do something similar.



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